What is doping in football and who are the biggest names who have got caught ?

Doping is a highly controversial topic in sports. Athletes have been known to take performance-enhancing drugs of many kinds due to various reasons. This is especially prominent in athletic sports. In football, however, doping is extremely rare due to multiple factors. But it still occurs nonetheless.

Image credit: Times of Malta

What exactly is doping, and why is it banned?

Doping is the use of performance-enhancing drugs and prohibited substances to improve athletic performance. These drugs are used for various purposes and provide various advantages to those who use them, such as increased stamina, power, speed, strength, etc.

There are two main reasons why doping is banned by all international sports organisations: –

1. The drugs give the users an unfair advantage over their competitors. Sprinters can run faster than usual, and wrestlers can withstand more attacks and deal heavier blows than they previously could, etc.

2. These drugs have a significant long-term impact on the body in all aspects.

Thus, doping is banned in all professional sports.

But these cases still occur, primarily due to pressure to perform or desire to win. This is why the age group of most doping cases is relatively low.

Due to the unavailability of drugs that could be useful, unless, in specific circumstances, doping is a crime very rarely found in professional football. And also, why the cases that occur are scrutinised heavily by one and all.

Even though there are very few drugs that can be used in football, they still are available to footballers. Amphetamine can be used as a stimulant, whilst morphine can improve performance by increasing players’ pain and endurance thresholds. Ritalin not only improves focus but can also boost power in professional athletes, which helps defenders against stronger opponents, or attackers to shoot with more power.

FIFA’s stance on doping.

Image credit: RT

FIFA, like all sports bodies, has officially banned doping and has provisions wherein any player can be tested at any time and as often as needed for any drugs. This ruling allows officials to catch players unsuspectingly. For example, during their 2017-18 season, a huge group of Real Madrid players were picked from their training session for a random drug test. The same occurred in the Barcelona camp during their treble season under Luis Enrique. FIFA is also in collaboration with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

However, it is widely recognised that FIFA is far too relaxed in testing because these drugs rarely affect games. If found, offenders are seriously punished with bans spanning months or years. But they don’t enforce testing widely. Instead, they randomly test one player or a group of players once in a while. And even if players are tested positive for drugs after a match, the game’s result still stands. Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was a manager that expressed his anger against this very much when his team was beaten in the UCL, and then a player of the opposition was found to be taking drugs.

Famous cases of doping accusations and testing in football

Image credit: The 42

As mentioned previously, doping is rare in football. But it does occur, as do accusations of it. Over the years, many players have been accused or randomly tested for doping. And the most well-known cases of doping are that of Diego Maradona in the World Cup, where he was found guilty after a match against Greece.

 Ajax Goalkeeper Andre Onana was also banned for a period of time due to accidental doping.

Sergio Ramos was also accused of doping in 2018, which he denied and was not found guilty. Recently, after a magnificent performance in the Europa League, Paul Pogba was asked to do a doping test, having won 6-2 against Roma.

What are your thoughts? Should FIFA act more strictly in such cases? Is doping in football rare or just doesn’t get caught? Comment and Share!

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